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Monday, October 8, 2012

Live review: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Uptown Amphitheatre (10/5/2012)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 8, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre
Oct. 5, 2012

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"I've never done this before, but we love Charlotte so I'm going to give you something special," Grace Potter told the crowded Time Warner Cable Amphitheatre on Oct. 5, 2012. She and her band, the Nocturnals, had been playing for nearly an hour when Potter walked to the front of the stage and strapped on an acoustic guitar.

After finger-picking an intro while letting the audience know the song is about having a "little too crazy" friend whose life ended too soon, Potter began "Stars" from the band's latest album, The Lion The Beast The Beat.

Having seen Potter a handful of times — from the early days at the Visulite Theatre a few years ago, through festivals like Bonnaroo and larger venues including the Fillmore — I went into the show expecting the usual amount of blues, soul and rock in a high-energy performance.

However, with her stripped down version of "Stars," Potter not only offered a more intimate view of her persona, but exposed another side of her songwriting. While the song has a slow bluesy roll on the album, in this acoustic format, it bordered on country. While Potter could easily become "just another pretty face" with growing popularity and building fame, she still puts the music first.

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The perfect-weather night began with Potter hitting the stage alone in a spotlight to sing the gospel-style "Nothing But the Water I." Just as she had the audience enrapt by her vocals, her band walked out as they launched into "Nothing But the Water II."

Clearly having a great time, Potter, in a short black dress and high heels, danced, shook and shimmied her way around the stage as the group played songs from each of its albums, leaning heavily on its latest. The hour-and-45-minute concert was a roller coaster of slow, slinky soulful songs ("Goodbye Kiss"), straight-up rockers ("Stop the Bus") and a few energetic covers.

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A few years back at the Visulite, Potter was usually stationed behind her Hammond B3 organ, belting out song after song. During a 2008 interview, the then 25-year-old told me she felt like she was in a cage and was learning guitar to provide a new outlet to get her out in front of the crowd. As evidenced by "Stars" and countless other songs on this night, Potter's guitar playing has grown by leaps and bounds and provides the music with a added energy. Mission accomplished.

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During "Oasis," from the band's self-titled album released in 2010, guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco fueled a jam-filled fire in the middle of the song as the band showed off a heavier side of its personality. Yurco and Tournet also backed Potter for a three-acoustic-guitar cover of Gillian Welch's "Elvis Presley Blues."

The group tore through its cover of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" before wrapping its regular set with the title song off of The Lion The Beast The Beat. The band had one more cover up its sleeve — Heart's "Crazy On You," before closing with "Medicine."

If not for an 11 p.m. curfew, Potter and Co. would have likely kept right on playing until they collapsed from exhaustion.

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Setlist
Nothing But The Water I
Nothing But The Water II
The Divide
Sweet Hands
Money
Parachute Heart
Colors
Goodbye Kiss
Oasis
Stars
Elvis Presley Blues (Gillian Welch cover)
Loneliest Soul
Stop The Bus
Paris (Ooh La La)
White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane cover)
The Lion The Beast The Beat

Encore
Crazy On You (Heart cover)
Medicine

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